The early F-types I was referring to were very clearly female, being observed by my grad student who was working on them for his disseration. They had begun twittering, cattail to cattail by March. Their marsh was all unfrozen. We were starting to wonder if they would actually build nests in March. Typically older females come back before younger ones. I suppose they could confuse by having salmon color in their heads, but their body feathers are not dark.
As for universal “conversion” of males into certain males by February? I wouldn’t count on there NOT being some very odd males still. As an old primate person, I think the banders' age designations are confusingly obfuscatory of critical differences. Blackbirds here fledge from sometime in May to 15 July (or maybe later now). That means that young males returning now in mid February range in age from 7 mos to 9 mos old. This probably contributes to a big range in plumages for those young males. But it isn’t hard to tell young “female-type” males from young or old females. Young females are very stripey, but not blackish-stripy and their heads are light; older females often will have salmon-orange color in their heads and are definitely not blackish in overtone. In some years, some older females have distinct epaulets (an easy fall and winter??), but they are usually only visible in hand or during aggression. So I would expect anyone seeing a very immature pliumage male would say something like “wow, that can’t be just a really dark female…but what IS it?” And the feathers will be odd looking, because they include dark ones that young females don’t have. I think I have some pictures from the last two years…. Anne Anne B Clark 147 Hile School Rd Freeville, NY 13068 607-222-0905 anneb.cl...@gmail.com > On Feb 20, 2020, at 4:12 PM, Suan Hsi Yong <suan.y...@gmail.com> wrote: > > Anne Clark wrote: > We had actual females back in a marsh near Binghamton/Endicott as early as > February. Usually females did not show up until late march. I don’t mean > nest, just be seen in flocks and maybe visit the marsh. > > Will all second-year males have "turned" by February, or could these early > F-types be second year males? > > Suan > > -- > Cayugabirds-L List Info: > Welcome and Basics <http://www.northeastbirding.com/CayugabirdsWELCOME> > Rules and Information <http://www.northeastbirding.com/CayugabirdsRULES> > Subscribe, Configuration and Leave > <http://www.northeastbirding.com/CayugabirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm> > Archives: > The Mail Archive > <http://firstname.lastname@example.org/maillist.html> > Surfbirds <http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/Cayugabirds> > BirdingOnThe.Net <http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/CAYU.html> > Please submit your observations to eBird <http://ebird.org/content/ebird/>! > -- -- Cayugabirds-L List Info: http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsWELCOME http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsRULES http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm ARCHIVES: 1) http://email@example.com/maillist.html 2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/Cayugabirds 3) http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/CAYU.html Please submit your observations to eBird: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ --